Saturday, March 28, 2009

Senate Panel OK's more Shuttle flights

I'm glad the funding was ok'ed by the Senate Panel to fund NASA 2.5 Billion dollars to cover the gap:
CAPE CANAVERAL -- The U.S. Senate Budget Committee passed a spending plan Thursday that would keep NASA's shuttle fleet flying through 2011 and eliminate a fixed retirement date that could create "dangerous scheduling pressures" like those that led to the 1986 Challenger and 2003 Columbia disasters.

The provision, included in the committee's version of the fiscal year 2010 budget, would provide NASA with an additional $2.5 billion to fly shuttle missions in 2011, while fully funding the development of next-generation Ares rockets and Orion spacecraft.

The spending provision is an initial -- but major -- legislative hurdle. The budget still must be passed by the full Senate and the House, and it must be signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Senator Bill Nelson adds:
"This decision today in the Senate sends a strong signal that the shuttle should not be retired on a date-certain -- but only when the space station can be safely completed," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, who requested the spending provision.

NASA is "not going to be able to fly nine missions in a year-and-a-half, nor should they," said Nelson, a Melbourne native who flew a shuttle mission aboard Columbia that landed just 10 days before the Challenger explosion.

A positive move is the 3,500 space related jobs will be around a little bit longer.
Extending shuttle fleet operations for an additional year would stall an estimated 3,500 job cuts at Kennedy Space Center and help close an anticipated five-year gap between shuttle fleet retirement and the first piloted flights of the orbiter's replacement.

Friday, March 20, 2009

ISS Solar Panels deployed

Great work on the ISS today. The power output has been increased so six crew members can inhabit the ISS. From Flame Trench here.

Activation of the final pair of solar wings brings the station to full power - enough to light up a small neighborhood.

The added power doubles to 30 kilowatts the amount of electricity available for science experiments in orbit, and helps NASA advance its goal of doubling station crews to six people this year.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Former Astronaut against AGW

SANTA FE, N.M. - Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon and once served New Mexico in the U.S. Senate, doesn’t believe that humans are causing global warming.
"I don’t think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect," said Schmitt, who is among 70 skeptics scheduled to speak next month at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York.

Harrison Schmitt was one of the last astronaut to walk on the moon from the Apollo 17 mission. He has a science degree from the California Institute of Technology. He also studied geology at the University of Oslo in Norway and took a doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964. I know he isn't a atmospheric scientist but being a geologist he has studied the "Geologic records" connected to climate change.
“Not that the planet hasn’t warmed. We know it has or we’d all still be in the Ice Age,” he said. “But it has not reached a crisis proportion and, even among us skeptics, there’s disagreement about how much man has been responsible for that warming.”

Schmitt said historical documents indicate average temperatures have risen by 1 degree per century since around 1400 A.D., and the rise in carbon dioxide is because of the temperature rise.

Schmitt also said geological evidence indicates changes in sea level have been going on for thousands of years. He said smaller changes are related to changes in the elevation of land masses -- for example, the Great Lakes are rising because the earth’s crust is rebounding from being depressed by glaciers.

From Boston Herald here.

From Cave News here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Did you see that flying rock?

Picture from Sky and Telescope here.
A small asteroid buzzed by Earth Monday, though only real astronomy geeks in the Pacific would have noticed.

The rock, estimated to be no more than 200 feet wide, zoomed past our planet at an altitude of 40,000 miles at 1:44 p.m. universal time — or 8:44 EST.

Dubbed 2009 DD45, it was discovered only on Friday by Australian astronomers.

Forty thousand miles may sound like a lot, but it's only about one-seventh of the way to the moon, and less than twice as far out as many telecommunications satellites.

Had 2009 DD45 hit the Earth, it would have exploded on or near the surface with the force of a large nuclear blast — not very reassuring when you consider humanity had only about three days' notice.

According to the Australian news Web site Crikey, the asteroid is likely to be drawn in by Earth's gravity, meaning it may return for many more near misses in the future.